Barcodes play a crucial role within organisations and across the supply chain. They enable retailers, manufacturers, contractors, distributers and hospitals (and many others) to automatically identify and capture information about entities.

But you need to select the appropriate barcode for the environment. This video will explain more:

Most common barcodes

Image of GTIN-13


Used on retail point of sale items and general distribution. The EAN-13 encodes Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN-13) and works worldwide, including the US. 

Image of UPC-A


The barcode symbol typically used by US companies for retail point of sale items. It encodes GTIN-12s. 

Image of EAN-8


Used on small retail items that can’t accommodate an EAN-13 barcode at the minimum recommended size. Typical products that use EAN-8s are small cosmetics and confectionery.

If you need EAN-8 barcodes you can apply for single or multiple GTIN-8s.

Image of an ITF-14


Used for barcoding cases or cartons. The ITF-14 is suitable for direct printing onto low quality material like cardboard and it encodes the Global Trade Item Number. 

Image of an GS1-128


This barcode is commonly used on healthcare items, logistic units and cases of short-life products. Can encode any GS1 identifier, including the GTIN and SSCC. Can contain information such as best before dates, batch/lot numbers and serial numbers

Image of a QR code powered by GS1

QR code powered by GS1

As well as doing anything a normal QR code can do, QR codes powered by GS1 can take people to dynamic webpages, can be used for inventory and supply chain purposes and will also go beep at the till. 

The benefits of GS1 barcodes


Barcodes are the backbone of supply chain automation, enabling your items to be identified quickly and information about them accurately captured. 


GS1 barcodes are ‘technology-agnostic’ (POP-UP) which mean you can use the printing method and scanning solution that’s right for you and your business. 


GS1 barcodes are a global standard so trading partners all over the world know what to expect and can be confident in their reliability and interoperability. 


Although some barcodes look similar, they can have very different uses. Choosing the wrong one will cost you time and money. GS1 UK members get full support to ensure they implement the correct barcodes for their needs.